The Pandemic Has Changed Their Shower Habits. How About Yours?

Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool on Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering each day.

“It’s what you did,” she mentioned. But when the coronavirus pandemic pressured her indoors and away from most people, she began showering as soon as per week.

The new apply felt environmentally virtuous, sensible and releasing. And it has caught.

“Don’t get me wrong,” mentioned Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “I like showers. But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom. I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”

The individual choice to stop showering or bathing daily is a critical one to make at a time when environmentalists are calling on countries to take more action against climate change, Mr. McCarthy, the environmentalist, said.

“There is nothing like soaking in a deep warm bath,” he said. “There is pleasure there that I absolutely accept and understand. But I keep those pleasures as treat.”

Still, Professor Armstrong said, it would take a huge number of people changing their bathing habits to make a difference in carbon emissions. To make a real impact, local and federal governments have to invest in infrastructure that makes showering and water use in general less harmful for the environment.

“It pains me to think of fracking every time I take a shower and use my hot water heater in the home,” Professor Armstrong said. “I’m in Pennsylvania. There is not much of a choice.”

Despite the compelling science, it is difficult to imagine Americans as a whole embracing infrequent showers and baths, said Lori Brown, a professor of sociology at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.

“We’ve been told so much about not smelling and buying products,” she said. “You’re dealing with culture. You’re not dealing with biology. You can tell people all day that this is not doing any good for them, and there are still going to be people who say: ‘I don’t care. I’m going to take a shower.’”

Nina Arthur, who owns Nina’s Hair Care in Flint, Mich., said she had many clients who were going through menopause and were so uncomfortable that they felt they needed to shower twice a day.

“I’ve had women who are having hot flashes in my chair,” she said.

One client was sweating so much, she asked Ms. Arthur to come up with a hairstyle that could withstand constant perspiration.

The pandemic has not swayed the bathing habits of such clients, Ms. Arthur said.

“When you have menopause, the smells are really different,” she said. “They’re not your normal smelling smells. I don’t think there is any woman who would want that smell on them.”

Ms. Arthur, 52, said she understood the environmental argument for showering less, but it would not move her to change her bathing habits.

“Nope,” she said. “I’m not that woman.”

Susan Beachy contributed research.

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